Warranty Obligations

Story by Costa Mouzouris// Photos by Costa Mouzouris
October 12 2021

Be sure to read your owner’s manual before performing your own motorcycle service

I just bought a 2022 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE. Like all other major motorcycle manufacturers, Triumph offers a time-limited warranty that requires certain maintenance be performed on the bike. I perform all my own maintenance, but all manufacturers have different requirements when it comes to who performs said maintenance, and how that affects the bike’s warranty.

The warranty, which can extend from one to three years on street bikes depending on the manufacturer, covers any defects in materials or workmanship that might arise within that warranty period. So you might think that everything from axle to axle is covered, but it’s not. Things not covered by the warranty include any service the bike requires, such as oil and filter changes, adjustments, etc. Service items like brake pads, drive chains, air filters, light bulbs and the like are not covered for wear and tear under the warranty. They are, however, covered for defects in materials or workmanship. Brake pads, for example, will not be replaced under warranty when they’re worn out. But should the brake pad lining separate from its metal backing, that would constitute a defect in workmanship, and that would be covered. OEM tires are covered under their manufacturer’s warranty, though the claim will probably be filed by the dealer.

Any fault that is the result of a modification or the installation of non-authorized accessories is not covered. Abuse and a lack of maintenance will void a warranty — and these are relatively easy to prove.

Using non-OEM replacement parts can void a warranty. If, for example, you use an aftermarket oil filter, and some time later you go into the dealer complaining that the engine is noisy, the warranty claim may be rejected, especially if it’s found that a faulty oil filter caused oil starvation that damaged the crank bearings. If you use an OEM filter and suffer the same failure, it would be covered under warranty, since OEM replacement parts are protected by the same warranty as the bike itself. Any expenses incurred due to a breakdown, such as towing or an unplanned hotel stay, are not covered, nor is the inconvenience of losing your bike for a while as you wait for parts.

Warranty repair work must be performed by an authorized dealer. The exception to this is that, because of U.S. law, any emissions-related work can be performed by any repair shop. Any bike used in a competition is not warrantied, though track days are okay, since those are not sanctioned races.
Manufacturers have different policies regarding performing your own maintenance: Some allow it without consequence; some insist on dealer-performed maintenance; some are in a grey area in between.

The KTM warranty manual states: “[The] owner is responsible for the costs of maintenance to the motorcycle including service at scheduled intervals. Service work properly done by the owner will not void the warranty.” Should you have a problem that needs warranty work, KTM only requires that you present a maintenance record noting the dates and services performed, as well as the appropriate receipts for the parts needed to perform the work.

Suzuki, on the other hand, wants you to visit the dealer. Its warranty manual declares: “It is the responsibility of each owner to ensure, at his/her own expense, that the vehicle has the maintenance service inspections specified in the owner’s manual conducted by an authorized Suzuki Canada motorcycle and/or ATV dealer.” Copies of the repair orders might be needed when making a warranty claim, so always keep records.

BMW and Honda, on the other hand, are in that grey area. Honda’s warranty manual says: “In order to maintain the validity of this Distributor’s Warranty, the required maintenance services as set forth in the Owner’s Manual must be performed at the proper intervals and detailed receipts and records retained as proof.”

However, it does not specify that the work be performed by an authorized dealer.

BMW voids the warranty if a “lack of service” is proven, otherwise it seems you’re good to go. According to the warranty manual, all you need to do is produce an invoice (for parts or service), and fill in the appropriate boxes in the Proof of Ownership booklet provided with the bike.

Unfortunately, my Triumph falls into the “see the dealer” category. The third clause under “Conditions and Exclusions” reads: “The machine must have been serviced by an authorized Triumph dealer, at the intervals specified in the Triumph Owner’s Handbook and the service log completed accordingly.”

I’m still doing my own maintenance, and keeping detailed records. I’ll eventually visit my dealer to perform any software updates, which I can’t do. I’m keeping chance on my side, though, by buying service parts at my dealer and keeping the receipts. Hopefully the warranty will be honoured if I have a problem. I’m ready to accept my fate; if you’re not, read your warranty booklet carefully so you’re not surprised after something breaks on your new bike.

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